Story #14

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Milagros R. – One dress, many dreams

BronxWorks Residences for Homeless Families

Milagros, a petite and shy teenager, never dreamed she would find herself in a homeless shelter for families. But early in 2010, her father, the family’s main source of financial support, got sick and lost his job. They were unable to keep up with the rent and were evicted from their apartment.

They tried to avoid the shelter system at all costs but ended up at one of BronxWorks’ three temporary residences for families. Milagros admits to finding it depressing at first – what vibrant, popular high school student wouldn’t? Today, Milagros and her parents are very grateful they were assigned to this facility because of all the support they received during their temporary stay.

During their time there, they took full advantage of all the activities and services available to them. Milagros's mother, unable to find a job due to the economy, still attended all the employment workshops offered and worked with the staff to find any type of work that would help out.

In spite of their situation and knowing Milagros might have better luck getting a job, her parents never wavered in their insistence that she should finish high school because of their firm belief that education is the key to her future. In addition to her studies, she was actively involved in community service and held down a part-time paid internship to contribute to the family’s savings.

Each of these activities (attending workshops, internships, etc.) are critical elements of an exit strategy developed for all shelter residents in order to prove they have the financial resources available to them when they do begin the search for permanent housing.

Milagros dreams about becoming an occupational therapist someday. She is on the path to realizing this dream thanks to a full scholarship to CUNY’s Medgar Evers College, where she is now majoring in biology. She hopes to pursue a master’s degree in occupational therapy to fulfill her professional ambitions.

On a more personal note, another of her dreams is to have a family one day, and buy her parents their own house in Mexico, where they can live comfortably and not worry about being homeless ever again.

And what high school girl doesn’t dream of going to her prom? Thanks to a long-standing partnership between the NYC Department of Homeless Services and the Tommy Hilfiger Foundation, Milagros was able to attend their annual Prom Dress Night this past spring. At the event, over 100 young ladies from the city’s shelters and community organizations were able to choose a dress, shoes, and glittering accessories for their special evening. Milagros is pictured here in her beautiful ensemble.

There is one more dream that Milagros and her parents shared: a permanent place to live while she is going to college so she can focus on her studies. On July 23rd, this dream came true when they moved into a two-bedroom apartment in an affordable housing complex. Such dreams are possible thanks to indispensible friends and wonderful partners who work with BronxWorks to lift lives and build futures.

BronxWorks’ three family residences provide temporary shelter for up to 276 homeless families at a time. They provide comprehensive support that includes case management, assistance with applying for benefits, budgeting, medical services, and childcare, while helping families secure permanent housing. Questions or comments? Send them to info@bronxworks.org.

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